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Wealth and the Demand for Art in Italy represents a departure from previous studies, both in its focus on demand and in its emphasis on the history of the material culture of the West. By demonstrating that the roots of modern consumer society can be found in Renaissance Italy, Richard Goldthwaite offers a significant contribution to the growing body of literature on the history of modern consumerism—a movement which he regards as a positive force for the formation of new attitudes about things that is a defining characteristic of modern culture.
Does a market economy encourage or discourage music, literature, and the visual arts? Do economic forces of supply and demand help or harm the pursuit of creativity? This book seeks to redress the current intellectual and popular balance and to encourage a more favorable attitude toward the commercialization of culture that we associate with modernity. Economist Tyler Cowen argues that the capitalist market economy is a vital but underappreciated institutional framework for supporting a plurality of co-existing artistic visions, providing a steady stream of new and satisfying creations, supporting both high and low culture, helping consumers and artists refine their tastes, and paying homage to the past by capturing, reproducing, and disseminating it. Contemporary culture, Cowen argues, is flourishing in its various manifestations, including the visual arts, literature, music, architecture, and the cinema. Successful high culture usually comes out of a healthy and prosperous popular culture. Shakespeare and Mozart were highly popular in their own time. Beethoven's later, less accessible music was made possible in part by his early popularity. Today, consumer demand ensures that archival blues recordings, a wide array of past and current symphonies, and this week's Top 40 hit sit side by side in the music megastore. High and low culture indeed complement each other. Cowen's philosophy of cultural optimism stands in opposition to the many varieties of cultural pessimism found among conservatives, neo-conservatives, the Frankfurt School, and some versions of the political correctness and multiculturalist movements, as well as historical figures, including Rousseau and Plato. He shows that even when contemporary culture is thriving, it appears degenerate, as evidenced by the widespread acceptance of pessimism. He ends by considering the reasons why cultural pessimism has such a powerful hold on intellectuals and opinion-makers.
The history of coffee is much more than the tale of one nonessential good--it is a lens through which to consider various strands of world history, from food and foodways to religion and economics and sociocultural history. A Rich and Tantalizing Brew traces the history of the coffee bean, beginning with its cultivation and brewing as a private pleasure in the highlands of Ethiopia and Yemen before its emergence as a common comfort, first in the Muslim world, then across the Mediterranean to Italy, other parts of Europe, and beyond to India and the Americas. At each of these stops the brew gathered ardent aficionados and vocal critics, all the while reshaping the social landscape. Taking its conversational tone from the chats often held over a steaming cup, A Rich and Tantalizing Brew offers a critical and entertaining look at how this bitter beverage, with a little help from the tastes that traveled with it--chocolate, tea, and sugar--has connected people to each other both within and outside of their typical circles, inspiring a new context for sharing news, conducting business affairs, and even plotting revolution.
Connecting Art Markets proposes that vertically-integrated art dealers operating on a large scale acted as cultural mediators, and offers an aggregate view that connects artistic and market developments at both sides of the Atlantic.
Though portraits of old women mediate cultural preoccupations just as effectively as those of younger women, the scant published research on images of older women belies their significance within early modern Italy. This study examines the remarkable flowering, largely overlooked in portraiture scholarship to date, of portraits of old women in Northern Italy and especially Bologna during the second half of the sixteenth century, when, as a result of religious reform, the lives of women and the family came under increasing scrutiny. Old Women and Art in the Early Modern Italian Domestic Interior draws on a wide range of primary visual sources, including portraits, religious images, architectural views, prints and drawings, as well as extant palazzi and case, furnishings, and domestic objects created by the leading artists in Bologna, including Lavinia Fontana, Bartolomeo Passerotti, Denys Calvaert, and the Carracci. The study also draws on an array of historical sources - including sixteenth-century theories of portraiture, prescriptive writings on women and the family, philosophical and practical treatises on the home economy, sumptuary legislation, books of secrets, prescriptive writings on old age, and household inventories - to provide new historical perspectives on the domestic life of the propertied classes in Bologna during the period. Author Erin Campbell contends that these images of unidentified women are not only crucial to our understanding of the cultural operations of art within the early modern world, but also, by working from the margins to revise the center, provide an opportunity to present new conceptual frameworks and question our assumptions about old age, portraiture, and the domestic interior.
Katherine A. McIver here adds a new dimension to Renaissance patronage studies by considering domestic art; she looks at women as collectors of precious material goods, organizers of the early modern home, and decorators of its interior. Using her subjects' financial records, McIver provides insights into Renaissance women's economic rights and responsibilities, and also provides a new model for understanding what women of the period bought, displayed, collected and commissioned.
Editing Music in Early Modern Germany argues that editors played a critical role in the transmission and reception of Italian music outside Italy. Like their counterparts in the world of classical learning, Renaissance music editors translated texts and reworked settings from Venetian publications, adapting them to the needs of northern audiences. Their role is most evident in the emergence of the anthology as the primary vehicle for the distribution of madrigals outside Italy. The book suggests that music editors defined the appropriation of Italian music through the same processes of adaptation, transformation and domestication evident in the broader reception of Italy north of the Alps. Through these studies, Susan Lewis Hammond's work reassesses the importance of northern Europe in the history of the madrigal and its printing.

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